UFC Fight Night Odds, Picks, Projections: Best Bets for McKinney vs. Ziam, Rong vs. Bahamondes, More (February 19)
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC fighter Rong Zhu.
- UFC Fight Night begins Saturday afternoon and features a main event between Islam Makhachev and Bobby Green.
- Along with the main event, our staff is targeting two other fights: McKinney vs. Ziam and Rong vs. Bahamondes
- Check out their favorite bets for Saturday's UFC Fight Night card below.
We’ve got a great UFC Fight Night card this Saturday night headlined by an exciting main event between Islam Makhachev and Bobby Green who is stepping in on short notice. The card features six prelim bouts (4 p.m. ET on ESPN+) and five main card fights (7 p.m. ET).
So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed two fights and picks on Saturday’s stacked card that present betting value.
You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo’s projections below.
Billy Ward: Rong Zhu vs. Ignacio Bahamondes
Contributor at The Action Network
Rong Zhu meets Ignacio Bahamondes in a battle of 1-1 UFC prospects. Both men lost decisions in their promotional debuts, before following that up with knockout wins in their second outings. Despite these similarities, these two bring very different fighting styles to the cage Saturday night.
Bahamondes is a solid striker, winning his last fight by wheel kick against Roosevelt Roberts. He (successfully) defended 12 takedowns in that one. However, he showed that his wrestling is lacking in his earlier bout against John Makdessi.
Makdessi out-struck Bahamondes in two of three rounds, which led to Bahamondes attempting four takedowns. He wasn’t able to finish any of them. It could simply be the case that his defensive wrestling is far better than his offensive, but it’s not a great sign for his grappling ability in general.
Rong is the classic grappler in this matchup. He’s secured eight of 12 takedowns in his two-fight UFC career, before finishing his last opponent with ground and pound. Rong is giving up almost five inches in reach in this one, so he’ll need to get this one to the ground to have a chance.
It’s likely he has some success in that department though. This fight is at the UFC Apex center, which uses a smaller cage. That makes it harder for Bahamondes to stay on the outside and use his reach to keep Rong away. Rong should have opportunities to attempt takedowns at the very least.
As a general rule, taking the grappler in pure striker vs. grappler matchups is the better bet. While judges have improved in this regard, they tend to favor the fighter who’s landed takedowns over the one who wins the stand up exchanges. Taller, Longer fighters like Bahamondes are also more susceptible to submissions if the fight does hit the ground.
Rong did miss weight by four pounds for this contest, which is somewhat surprising as the theoretically smaller fighter. That might mean a strength edge for him, though I’m not putting too much stock in it personally.
Rong’s line has dropped from +215 or so down to +175, so smart money is coming in on him. I’d bet him as soon as possible, though I’d play it down to +150.
The Pick: Rong Zhu ML (+175)
Sean Zerillo: Terrance McKinney vs. Fares Ziam
Staff Writer at The Action Network
Saturday’s card is full of live spots and fights whose dynamics are drastically different in the small cage at the UFC APEX, unlike the larger cage used in other venues.
The Terrance McKinney – Fares Ziam matchup fits both criteria, but the latter factor certainly favors McKinney – a powerful wrestler and violent finisher (100% finish rate), with 10 of his 11 wins in Round 1; in addition to the fastest finish in Lightweight history in his UFC debut.
McKinney is still raw as an MMA fighter, but he can get by for now against opponents who can’t deal well with his early pressure – and Ziam has looked skittish against fighters with a similar archetype. Moreover, McKinney’s aggressive style plays up in the smaller APEX cage, making him the clear side of pre-fight wagering.
There’s no sense in taking McKinney’s moneyline at an even-money price when his violence props offer substantially more value.
I projected McKinney’s odds to win inside the distance at 44% (+127 implied) – with a finish supporting 85% of his win condition. The market sees those chances closer to 65%, and I see roughly a 10-11% edge (depending on the book) for McKinney to win by KO/TKO/DQ/Submission (or Inside the Distance, or by finish, depending on the book), compared to my number.
Furthermore, I would bet McKinney’s odds to win in Round 1 at +350 or better. “T.Wrecks” is incredibly effective in the early stages of his fights, but he tends to slow after powering up all of his explosive (and sometimes wasteful) techniques.
Ziam makes for a solid live bet after Round 1 – he is a precise and technical kickboxer who can pick apart a slowing opponent – while staying out of danger.
I wouldn’t want any part of Ziam early against a fresh McKinney, but I’m not sure that he’ll step on the gas himself to finish a tiring opponent in the late stages either, which makes betting the total or his decision prop a complicated endeavor.
Ultimately, McKinney pre-fight violence bets into a Ziam live position is how I would play this matchup – and I have a similar betting approach for several fights (including Alvarez-Tsarukyan, and Rodrigues-Petrosyan) on this card.
The Pick: McKinney Inside the Distance (+200 at Bet365/+190 at Bet Rivers) | McKinney Wins in Round 1 (+350 at DraftKings)
Erich Richter: Islam Makhachev vs. Bobby Green
Contributor at The Action Network
In the past, Makhachev’s decision prop had next to no value. Let’s see what his odds were to win by decision for his last few fights… Odds are courtesy of BestFightOdds.
Makhachev’s Odds to Win by Decision — Last 5 Fights
Readers at the Action Network are consistently informed about over corrections by sportsbooks. Oddsmakers had been hanging Islam Makhachev as, by far, his most likely win condition. His last 3 fights have been submission wins which is why the line has moved so drastically.
However, his fight against Drew Dober could’ve easily been a decision win as Dober kind of quit in that fight. Even against Thiago Moises, Makhachev had a tougher time than people want to believe. The difference in competition between Bobby “King” Green and Thiago Moises is rather large.
Against Dan Hooker, Makhachev stormed him and submitted him easily. The same possibility exists here but when betting on mixed marital arts, you must follow the value. Makhachev is a -1000 favorite this weekend and oddsmakers just as recently as October and every fight prior believed that his most likely win condition was an easy decision win.
Well, at +490, we are looking at an unbelievable spot to back what history says. 4 of Makhachev’s 10 fights have been won by decision and Bobby Green’s striking could make it at least a little bit more difficult to win by submission.
This prop is worth betting down to +400 which is where most other sportsbooks have this prop. His decision prop his anywhere between +340 and +250 which is a pass for me.
The best way to back Makhachev this weekend is his unanimous decision prop +490 on FanDuel.
The Pick: Makhachev Wins by Unanimous Decision (+490)